This past weekend, I went home to Boca Raton, which is well known for being ritzy. It is overrun with senior citizens, often dressed in sequined clothing and oversized hats. The city is mainly composed of pink and yellow buildings, and it’s common to see limos on main roads. I’m not kidding.
I happen to pride myself on being incredibly down-to-earth after growing up in such an atmosphere. However, this fall break I noticed that growing up in Boca has affected me more than I think. I realized that people growing up in rich, glitzy cities often carry those standards. I recently gave one of my closest UM friends a tour of my hometown starting with Publix. I had always assumed that a Pepto-Bismol colored building surrounded by lights, palm trees, and the valet parking option was how Publix should look. But she was in awe. We then traveled to Boca Center. The McDonalds there also amazed her. Another pink, looming building next to a valet booth is our local Mickey D’s. I never assumed McDonalds would be any different. But to her, it was extraordinary.
We walked around dozens of seniors. Many of the women reeked of perfume and practically fell over their $10000 sequined high-heels, while the men smoked Cuban cigars and droned on about the stock market and business deals. They drove around in Jaguars, BMWs and Mercedes.
Growing up with this, it’s normal. But this weekend, I realized that the second I spend an ounce of time in any city outside of Boca, I often think it is “ghetto.” If a storefront sign is not brand new and lit, I consider it to be a shack. This shouldn’t happen! I know I’m not spoiled. But growing up in a town full of smelly, rich, Porsche-driving 80-year-olds has affected me. Children shouldn’t grow up in an environment that jades them from the real world. In the real world, no one has three cars. People don’t valet while grocery shopping. Those growing up here begin to think that it’s the normal standard of living in America, which it’s not.
I offer no solutions. I can only hope that I don’t grow up to be snobby and that I’ll soon realize the ridiculousness of valet parking at my local supermarket.
Dara Solomon is a freshman majoring in print journalism.